Nov 30 1Co 1:1-4:21; Pro 21:29-22:7

The salutation of this letter is typical. And Paul starts out on a positive note with his audience. Then at 1:10 he begins to exhort them (his word) that they have no divisions among themselves, “because I have been told that you’re having quarrels!” They were arguing about who was the greatest among them by bragging on who had baptized them. This is reminiscent of the disciples arguing who was the greatest. Paul is angered (and saddened) by this. Christ is to be the focal point of our lives. Paul and Apollos and Cephas are mere vessels in which the Good News (Gospel) was transported and conveyed fully to them. They are in a sense missing the forest by having concentrated on one small plant.

Quoting from Isaiah 29:14 he reminds them that God will “destroy the wisdom of the wise” (1:19). That is, God will destroy the so-called wisdom of the so-called wise of this world; those who neglect or despise Him and practice foolishness that they deem wise. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1:25). “God has chosen the foolish things of the world [us!] to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1:27). He has also chosen the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are (1:28). The things that are not are those which He has (or had) not yet called into existence. It is a reminder of His omnipotence (being ALL powerful) and omniscience (ALL knowing). This chapter (actually 1 and 2) from Paul also helps to explain to us why we have such a hard time understanding and being understood by those who are opposed to God. We have been given God’s wisdom and understand many of His truths. They may even seem simple to us to understand. But they in having chosen to oppose Him have their minds clouded and CANNOT understand these things which actually seem to them to be foolishness of the worst sort.

God gives us wisdom through His Holy Spirit and we are given to understand His thoughts! (2:10-16).

What will be left to show of the works you have done for the Lord? (3:10-15).

We are to take good care of our bodies for they are a temple of and to the Holy Spirit. We ourselves should never be worshiped (just as we do not worship churches or temples, but our Creator God whom those buildings represent or at least magnify; 3:16-17).

Do not forget that the wisdom of this world [evolution and the areas of the many various fields which it has infiltrated; secularism; false religions . . . ] is foolishness in the sight of God. We need to seek His wisdom so that we can recognize this trash as what it truly is (3:18-23).

What do you want from me? A whoopin’ or a hug? (4:21).

Proverbs: No one can overthrow God! We prepare for battle, but God decides who wins. Integrity is of more value than all the wealth in the world. The wise avoid evil, but the foolish rush into it. Riches, honor, and quality of life are the reward of the righteous. The opposite of these would be the “reward” of the fool. If we train our children properly, God will see that they are on His path through their lives. One who borrows becomes the slave of his lender.

Nov 29 Rom 13:8-16:27; Pro 21:19-28

This first verse merits some thought. We can easily agree and understand that the one who truly loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law. This is similar to Jesus’ teaching of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). But this skips completely over the first clause of the verse, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another!” The first verb in this verse is in the imperative, that is to say that it is a command, not merely a suggestion. This can be taken in a number of ways. Perhaps the first we think of is in finances. Another perhaps is not to owe a good deed, pay up immediately. This is but one of many passages that reminds that we should be in debt to no one; and God doesn’t add the “as much as it is possible” that we would like to see there. The exception is that we love one another and therefore owe more love to one another.

Then Paul stomps right on our feet and begins reciting some of the ten commandments. Have you ever noticed that the breaking of the tenth commandment often leads to the breaking of others? It is because of coveting, or at least the envy that leads to it that causes us to steal, murder, commit adultery, and so forth. And just as Jesus he adds that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (13:9-10; Matthew 19:19; Leviticus 19:18).

14:4 points to a fault we often have; we want to judge that which is not ours to judge! Most often we neglect to judge ourselves and commend ourselves when we should be condemning our actions and thoughts.

I think in the following verses that Paul is telling us that we need to know MUCH more about God’s commands and doctrines than the majority of us do. We need to know enough to be comfortable in our knowledge, able to teach, and able to correct when needed. We are not to be ignorant, wondering about the truth, and ever hesitant and afraid to act for fear we are doing wrong or reacting wrongly.

Paul is not in 14:13-17 contradicting our interpretation of Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:7. He too is telling us not to condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially not for doing things that they do which we have decided not to do but which Christ has not commanded us to abstain from.

What do you think of Paul’s statement that “whatever is not of faith is sin”? (14:23c). Have you ever been of one mind with other Christians (15:5)?

Keep your eyes on those who cause dissensions and turn away from them! (16:17). These fellows are not serving Christ, but their own lusts, and they are dishonest (verse 18).

Note at 16:22 that Tertius is Paul’s amanuensis (a fancy word we use that means secretary, that is he wrote what Paul dictated).

Proverbs: As in yesterday’s reading but slightly different wording, it is better to live in the wilderness than with a contentious and vexing woman. Shape up women! Guarding ones tongue keeps one from much evil (yes, I caught that!!). Notice that the lazy man is craving things all the time, while the righteous man is giving to the needy (and not to the “wanty” who refuse to work).

Nov 28 Rom 9:30-13:7; Pro 21:9-18

We have many today who call themselves Christians and believe that they will escape hell and spend eternity with God, and yet as Paul explains in 9:30-33 they are NOT walking by faith but believe they are earning their salvation by their works. This is a fallacy, a direct contradiction to Scripture. Sadly though, they may be deceiving more than just themselves.

10:4 in my translation says that Christ is the “end” of the law for righteousness. That is one way the word may be translated, but a much better translation here would be to use the word “goal.”

10:9-13 (even verses 9-11) is a very succinct explanation of the Gospel message. This is an excellent passage to memorize and have available for the opportunities you have to lead someone to Christ! You might also write “Romans 10:9-13” in the front leaf of your Bible so that you remember to turn there to help those who need the verse. Memorization is good, but when leading someone to Christ it is always best to also turn to the passage and have them read it with you.

Despite the fact that Israel, as Paul has stated, is not saved and rejects God’s plan for them, God has not rejected them (11:1-2). He gives us more insight into the grace versus (seemingly versus) works idea as well. “But if [since] it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (11:6). Because of Israel’s sin, Paul says, God has extended salvation to the Gentiles. The intent of this is to make the Jews jealous so that they come back to God (11:11-15).

We often think of a sacrifice as that which is burnt. But a sacrifice is actually that which is GIVEN TO GOD. So when Paul calls us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (12:1-2) he is calling us to live faithfully and wholly for God, dedicating every aspect of our lives to Him (12:3-8).

If only we could remember and DO 12:9: “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good!” Of course following the rest of the admonitions in this chapter wouldn’t hurt either (12:10-21).

I believe that chapter thirteen has been greatly misunderstood and misapplied by a good number of Christians. It seems that God has Paul speaking of an ideal here (see also 1 Peter 2:13-17) where the government officials are honest Christians who are doing their proper duty; not those who are blatantly ignoring their Constitution and fleecing the sheep. I note here verses three and four. Obviously with the verses in mind one cannot understand verses one and two as pertaining to EVERY government: Stalin, Hitler, Obama, etc.

Proverbs: It is better to live in a tiny room poor as a church-mouse, than in a mansion with a contentious woman. That says a lot about how we treat one another and the amount of the quality of our lives we control. If you truly want God to help you, then be sure that you help those who need your help: I don’t think this means we have to help everyone who asks. We have to learn to “listen” to God and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Is verse fourteen saying that it is alright to bribe if we are bribing a crook to do justice? If you love pleasure and luxury, you will squander your earnings.

Nov 27 Rom 7:7-9:29; Pro 20:29-21:8

“Is the Law sin?! NO way!!” (7:7). It is not sin but it makes us aware of sin and also defines what it is not. Have you ever felt like you wanted to really be obedient to Christ but just couldn’t do it? Paul says the same. This though is NO excuse to sin. It should turn us ever more toward Christ, cause us to pray fervently for strength, wisdom, and the doing of good deeds (7:14-25). Put Christ first, always!

Did God break the Law in offering salvation and forgiveness of sins to those of us who deserve to die for what we have done (and thought)? NO (perish the thought!). He fulfilled the requirement of the Law, but He is also full of mercy (and love) and has offered us a Way (8:3-11). “All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (8:14). The word “Abba” in 8:15 is transliterated from the Greek (written phonetically as opposed to being translated into a word of the same general meaning) which in turn is transliterated from the Aramaic which Jesus would have spoken at home. It means “Daddy” or a similar term of endearment for ones father. He is more than our Creator, He is our close friend, our daddy.

I love the promise of 8:26. Have you ever been so distraught or for whatever reason been unable to pray well but know you need to. You know, when you know what you want to pray about but just can’t seem to put it into words? Well, the promise here is that God “the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” That is to say that when we are having trouble praying but try anyway, our Advocate prays to the Father God on our behalf! Talk about some power in prayer! And being God, He prays PERFECTLY for us in total accordance with His own will!

8:28 should be of some comfort to us as well. Here we are reminded that God works things out well for those who love and serve Him. The promise is not just to those who hear about the promise and say, “Wow that’s neat, I want that. God give it to me.” But it is to those who are truly His, to those who live their lives striving to become ever more like Christ, taking advantage of opportunities to serve Him, praying, studying and growing in His Word. These are not perfect, but they are dedicated totally to Him.

The rhetorical question of 8:31 means that “if” (since, hopefully) we have aligned ourselves with Christ and are on His side, we have NOTHING to fear. Christ is with us and will protect us. This does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us, but that with Christ we will be victorious in it. This statement by Paul is made as a summation of his comments on the intercession for us of the Holy Spirit and God’s calling of us.

“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect (us, His chosen)? No one, at least not unless God allows it and remember that He IS in control. Nothing happens without His permission (8:33). At 8:34 we are reminded that Christ ALSO intercedes for us. Wow. Just think about that, especially some day when you get down and start feeling sorry for yourself! NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ (8:35; 38-39).

8:37 says that “We are more than conquerors through [in] Him who loved us.” The past tense of the verb love does not mean that He only loved us in the past and has now ceased to do so, but that He has loved us all along. The verb translated “more than conquerors” is interesting. Its root is where the makers of Nike shoes get there name. The verb nikaw means to conquer, or annihilate. But in this case it has a prepositional prefix attached. This prefix is huper or hyper, (as in hyperactive) and acts much as does the German uber. It can be translated as “more than.” It is a verb, not a noun (as it is here translated). So the statement is that in Christ we are able to more than conquer all that life throws at us. The key here though is “in Christ.” Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Note carefully that “not all are of Israel just because they have descended from Israel, and neither are they all Abraham’s seed even though they descended through Abraham.” There is more to this than mere physical descent. There is the aspect of truly belonging and then there is the spiritual realm (9:6-8). And showing God’s sovereign choice in all things there is the reminder and the quotation of God at verse 13 from Malachi 1:2-3, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I hated.” And lest we think that God could be unjust Paul again gives us a “perish the thought!” (verse 14). And reminiscent of God’s answer to Job in the latter chapters of that book Paul reminds us that God says, “Who are you to question Me?! (verses 20-24).

Proverbs: I once had strength, now I have gray hair. The first was the glory of my youth, the other that of my older age. Everyone likes to think that his way is the right way, but it is God who has determined from the beginning what is right and wrong; we are to do what He has declared right, this is and shows wisdom. Wealth gotten by dishonest means will evaporate like fog before the hot sun.

Nov 26 Rom 4:1-7:6; Pro 20:19-28

Paul contends that exercising faith (belief) is all that counts, not works. And exercising faith is not work because God enables us to have and to exercise that faith in the first place.

In 4:17 we get a reminder of the fact that in creating, God did not start with anything pre-existing (there was nothing) but that He “calls into being that which does not exist.” The Greek actually says that He “calls the things which do not exist as existing.” That is to say that from nothing He created all that is by the power of His word! Remember the “let there be” statements of Genesis 1.

Notice what he says about Abraham’s faith: “He contemplated the fact that he was very old and that his wife was beyond childbearing. But he still believed that God was able and would bring this promise of descendants to pass!” (4:18-21). “Therefore it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (4:22).

Have you ever really thought about the fact recorded in 5:8 that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”? “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. So let’s boast about it!” (5:10-11). He then turns to speaking of Christ as the second Adam. Through the disobedience of the first sin and death entered the world, but through the obedience and perfection of the second life and healing come to man (5:12-14). And the big difference in the two is the pouring out of God’s Grace in, by, and through the second. Through our father Adam we became sinners, through our brother Jesus we become righteous! Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? Perish the thought! (6:1-2).

Even if you do not fully understand or follow the theological implications of 6:1-10, pay careful attention to verse 11: “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” That is to say, QUIT SINNING and live fully and faithfully for Christ every moment of every day. Lest you forget, this is a command from God through Paul, not just Paul pontificating!

Do not let sin be master over you! (6:12-14). There has been a lot of ink spilled and mistaken thoughts over 6:14b, “for you are not under law, but grace.” Far too many have taken this to mean that we have no obligation to obey the Old Testament, only what is in the New. This is crazy. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that not the least part of any letter of the Law will change before earth is done with. We are to obey all. Christ has fulfilled the ceremonial aspects of the Law, so we are no longer burdened with the sacrificial system and its feasts and festivals. But all of the Old Testament has SO much to teach us. The more we grow in Christ the more we see how much the New Testament draws from and depends on the Old. Sometimes I think that it is sad that we have the terms “Old” and “New” for them. I’m not sure what terms would be better but I’m sure there are some.

May it never be! again at 6:15, because sadly there are those who believe that we should sin because we are under grace not law and have completely misunderstood that phrase.

Sanctification is both a process and an act. It is the act of God declaring us free of sin at the time of our conversion to Him. It is also the process of us working with God and eradicating sin from our lives, becoming ever more free from sin. There are those who believe that perfection can be achieved this side of heaven, but they are mistaken. Even Paul said that he was not perfect/without sin (Philippians 3:12).

What we have earned, what we deserve, is death, but God gives salvation freely to all who will receive it (6:23). 7:1-6 speaks of the fact that before we were saved we were slaves of sin, now we belong to Christ. We are dead to sin and alive in and to Christ!

Proverbs: A lot of toes are stepped on in the command not to associate with a gossip! That would also mean it is not right to BE one. Anything worth having is worth earning and that does not happen overnight; exercise patience! A wise society eradicates evil from its midst. Honesty in measurement, honesty in trade is very important to God and to a stable and just society (a big part of our problems in this country today!).

Nov 25 Rom 1:1-3:31; Pro 20:9-18

Note the amount of information contained in the salutation of Paul’s letter (1:1-7). There is a summation of Paul’s ministry and the Gospel message. Paul desires to visit the church for whom he has prayed much. He has even attempted several times to visit but has so far been hindered. We know from the end of Acts that he eventually spent at least two years with those folks and others in Rome (1:8-15). Are we each living by faith? (1:17). Paul says that we are supposed to be.

We learn in 1:18-23 that God has placed a knowledge of Himself within the minds of all mankind. Those who do not seek Him and serve Him are without excuse (verse 20). This does not mean that everyone has the knowledge of Christ and his sacrificial death, but that at least that everyone knows that God exists and that he has an obligation to love and serve Him. This shows atheists, agnostics, and those who worship false dieties to be dishonest, in more ways than one. They have exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God, their Creator, for the image of corruptible created beings. Want an answer to homosexuality? 1:26-27. It is a SIN and is entered into knowingly by those who have chosen to further sin against God and His created order. People are NOT “born that way” like they are with differences of skin, eye, or hair color, or dimples. It is a choice and a sinful choice at that. More information follows in verses 28-32.

In chapter two Paul begins speaking to hypocrites–those who rightly condemn the sins they see in others, but who sinfully indulge in those sins, often excusing them for various and sundry wrong reasons. “Because of your stubborn and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself” (2:5), for “God will render to every man according to his deeds” (2:6; Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12). The rewards are: “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation” (2:7-8).

Paul implicitly recommends that we examine ourselves carefully to see if we are at all hypocritical (2:17-25). Jewishness is not a matter of awkwardness, nor is it something that is put on like a garment, but is inward, a matter of the heart–that is the mind. This is to say that being a child of God involves purposely choosing Him to follow Him in each and every aspect of life, no matter what (2:26-28).

The “may it never be” of 3:4 is one that I remember well from my days of Greek study. I did very well in Greek but the whole class always got a good laugh because I never parsed this right on any test we had. I DO know however what it means! I like to translate it as “perish the thought!” Generally when Paul uses it he poses a somewhat rhetorical question to which he answers with this “NEVER!”  Again in verse 6.

“There is NO distinction; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified only through a gift by the grace of the redemption of Christ Jesus” (3:22-24). In the Greek Paul’s sentence starts in verse 21 and does not end until somewhere in verse 25. He is noted for some long sentences–but then he deals with some deep subjects. When you feel overwhelmed by what Paul says, take courage, even Peter found Paul to be a bit difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16).

One is NEVER justified by works but by faith, although works can prove the faith (3:27-31). Note again the “may it never be” in verse 31.

Proverbs: Honesty in the market place is a must. Wisdom is more precious than any thing on earth; more is gained from association with other wise people.

Nov 24 Act 27:1-28:31; Pro 19:28-20:8

Did you notice the “little” details that Luke adds in his narrative? The name of the cohort, and the centurian, the origin of their ship, that there were other prisoners going to Rome (27:1-3). Have you ever really considered the hardships of travel in that day and age? They were planning to wait out the winter and then finish their trip! (27:4-13). Luke offers more details of the journey in 27:14-26). I wonder if a man gets used to the stormy waters or if he just stays seasick? Luke doesn’t address that. Kind of makes my stomach queasy to think of being on a rocking ship that long! Paul is shown throughout as a leader and encourager of others, even in the chains of a convicted prisoner (or so people would think).

Obviously the snake that fastened on Paul’s hand (28:3-6) was known by the natives to be poisonous. But God protected him and the natives decided that he himself was a god. He had plenty of opportunity to share the Gospel, which led also to healing the sick.

Luke tells of the brethren (other Christians) coming from Rome to meet them and of meeting with Jews who were willing to hear Paul speak for a full two years. It is known from history that Paul was later executed in Rome, but Luke’s account ends on a positive note. We don’t know if he wrote it after Paul’s death of before. At any rate the entire book tells of the progress of the kingdom, the apostles obeying Christ and seeking to fulfill the Great Commission! For the Jews who rejected the Gospel Paul sternly reminded them of the prophecy of Isaiah which told of their stubborn and ignorant foolishness. And to add salt to the wounds he told them that God was offering this salvation they were rejecting to the Gentiles and that “they will listen.”

Proverbs: Scoffers and fools deserve the beatings they receive. Intoxication does NOT reflect wisdom. He who does not sow also does not harvest and will be reduced to begging. When a man is truly righteous this will be reflected in the righteousness of his children as well.

Nov 23 Act 24:1-26:32; Pro 19:20-27

I would guess that Tertullus was a big city high dollar lawyer. I wonder if they ever paid him?! Notice the brown-nosing of the governor before the charges are brought against the prisoner. Any evidence on the prisoner’s attempts to desecrate the temple? And why did it take much violence on the part of Lysias the commander to take him our of your hands if you were merely having a trial to judge him according to your own Law? Paul was happy to be before Felix who had been there for some years and had a definite knowledge of the Jews and their Laws. “Let them tell you what misdeed they found when I stood trial before them” (24:20), None. Note that Felix promised to decide Paul’s case once he talked to the commander (24:22), but later was hoping for a bribe (24:26), but Paul preached to him and scared his socks off him (24:25) and was still confined there two years later when Felix was replaced (24:27).

Despite that passage of time the Jews had not forgotten about Paul, nor had their hatred for him abated. They still wanted him dead (25:2-3). Paul appealed to be tried by Caesar to avoid being ambushed and killed on the way to Jerusalem. We’re not told of any conversions, but look how many high government officials Paul was allowed to witness the Gospel to! There were converts in the court of Caesar while he was in Rome though.

I’m sorry, but every time that I read that Agrippa and Bernice came in amid great pomp, I can’t help but think of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Why, I do not know. As before, as Paul testifies before Agrippa he tells of himself, and again Luke uses up considerable space for Paul to tell of his conversion. This time Paul adds that he and all with him fell to the ground because of the bright light, brighter than the sun, which was shining around them. Three times Luke records details of Paul’s conversion, the number required by Old Testament Law to verify the facts in a matter. Do you suppose that is what Luke is subtly telling us? Heed these facts, don’t oppose God like Paul did, but serve Him like Paul then did!

Festus appears frightened again. And Paul said he would that except for the chains all there that day would one day be like him, servants of Christ Jesus (26:29).

Is it irony that “this man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar”? (26:32), while he appealed to Caesar because Festus wanted brownie points with the Jewish religious officials instead of doing justice. And Felix before him couldn’t keep his word and wanted to be bribed.

Proverbs: Increase your wisdom by learning from that of others, especially those more wise than you. Kindness trumps meanness, and lying is always wrong. The fear of the LORD leads to life! Fools do not learn even if you try to beat wisdom into them, but wise men listen carefully to wisdom.

Nov 22 Act 21:27-23:35; Pro 19:10-19

Yet again we see Paul in hot water. He draws detractors like stink draws flies. Take note on events so that later on when someone else reports them you can draw your own conclusions. Paul, never one to miss an opportunity to share, addresses the people. This time he gives a bit of his own history to which he says even the high priest can verify, if he wants to do so, that is that he persecuted the church, which he refers to as “this Way.” I always hesitate on that one. You see I don’t live far from the world headquarters of “The Way International” which is widely known as a cult. More locally they’re referred to as “Wafers.” I know that “Way” was originally a biblical term for Christianity, but these folks have ruined it somewhat for some of us.

Notice that Paul tells of his conversion on the road to Damascus. When we originally read that portion of Acts I told you that Luke only had so much space on which to write and he chose to include it, not to edit down to a few sentences. Now again Paul tells it in quite a few words (22:6-21). When they heard that he was catering to Gentiles they went into a rage. Notice carefully the sequence of events, as to when the commander found out that Paul was a Roman Citizen. Notice too all the “ceremony” surrounding Paul’s trials. Justice is never done in his case. There is a lot of time wasted. And as “they” say, “Time is money.” Trouble is, too many do not care when it is “the government’s money.” Are we so stupid as to forget that it is OUR money and shouldn’t we call them to account for it, and begrudge them of it in the first place?

Paul is struck in the face, by the order of the high priest. And then he is rebuked for rebuking that “whitewashed wall” (whitewash is just lime water that covers over whatever is there and makes it look pretty–no matter what is under it. And in some cases manure was mixed with the whitewash; 23:3). Then Paul, being a Pharisee himself, realized that there were both Pharisees and Sadducees present brought up a subject sure to divide them–that of the resurrection of the dead.

Neither Paul’s nephew nor his sister are called by their names, but the young man saved Uncle Paul’s life by coming to him and telling him of the conspiracy to kill him. Forty dedicated men could do a bit of damage. The commander sent Paul away with four hundred seventy men!

Note the commander’s letter to Felix, as was the custom his own name (the sender) was first. He lets on like he rescued Paul because he had learned that he was a Roman Citizen, which he did not learn until he had chained him (illegal) and was getting ready to scourge him (worse yet). His treatment of the prisoner since he has “learned of a plot against his life” makes him look pretty good too–even though Paul and his nephew were the source of that information. This man was a grandfather of modern politicians.

Proverbs: What is not “fitting” at all would be for a wise man to act the fool, or the fool to display any measure of wisdom. If you really upset the king, you are in big trouble, but if you please him, good things are in store. The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping, just like the old Chinese water torture (or worse?!). A prudent wife is a gift from God! Giving to the poor is the same as lending to God–think too then on the opposite.

Nov 21 Act 19:21-21:26; Pro 19:2-9

How prophetic Paul’s statement that after he traveled to Jerusalem that “then I must see Rome!” (19:21). And then he learned how money trumps truth, at least for some folks in business (19:23-41). Note a couple of things from this narrative: 1) When aroused “the city was filled with confusion” (19:29), 2) the majority of the people had NO IDEA what was going on (19:32b), they were just there. This is mob rule at nearly its best (worst). All it takes is someone to set folks off, and there does not have to be ANY truth in what sets them off. Others will feed on the energy and will not know or care what they are there for, what the circumstances are, or who they kill, maim, or ruin. The town clerk appears to have been a pretty wise and level-headed man. Read his words in 19:35-41.

Paul no more left the trouble in Ephesus, traveled to Greece, and within three months folks were again plotting against his life (20:1-3). Notice again the we/us statements at 20:6. Also note at verse seven the reference to gathering to break bread on the first day of the week. The Jews worshipped on the seventh day (Saturday), but because of the Resurrection of Christ on the first day of the week (Sunday), that is now the day on which we hold corporate worship. But Paul kept the service going until midnight. I wonder if Eutychus ever fell asleep in a service again? At least not while sitting in the window, I‘d hope! (20:7-12). It certainly did not stop Paul from speaking longer!

Paul knew that hard times were ahead as, like Jesus, he put his face toward Jerusalem. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the Holy Spirit warns through prophets in every town we pass through that bonds and afflictions await me” (20:22-23). But that did not deter him from continuing there. He admonishes all to take seriously their duties in the church to the Lord (20:28). And he reminded them that Jesus Himself had said that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (20:35).

Verse four of chapter twenty-one is troubling to some people. Paul is told here “through the Holy Spirit” not to set foot in Jerusalem. Some have used this to disparage New Testament prophecy (as opposed to that of the Old Testament), and some have just been confused. I think that the Holy Spirit was giving these prophets the knowledge that Paul was going to suffer for his faith when he got to Jerusalem. As God did not give them the exact words, or more exact thoughts to impart to Paul, they went with their gut feeling and told him not to go there. God though had told Paul to go there and that He would be with him, so Paul kept going in that direction. It seems that even Luke was against the idea of going to Jerusalem (21:14) – “And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking , ‘The will of the Lord be done!’”

Philip the Evangelist was one of the seven–remember the seven selected early in the book of Acts to be deacons, to wait tables for the Christian widows? Same man, but now this table-server is noted as an evangelist (21:8)!

How long do you suppose the telling remarked on in 21:19 actually took?

They told Paul in Jerusalem that his enemies were circulating many lies about him, lies that could easily cause devout persons of the Jewish faith to lynch him on sight. So they recommended that to show to the Jewish people that he was not a blasphemer of God that he pay the vows of four men who were ready to begin theirs and shave his head along with them. He did so going to the temple and stating how long their vows would be for (presumably vows of the Nazarite).

Proverbs: Haste makes waste, especially so for those who have no sense. Just remember that no matter how long it takes, liars will be punished for their crimes. “Friends” are thick as flies around the man who has money, but scarce as can be around the poor man. Just as he who loves his son disciplines him, the one who is wise loves himself and strives ever more to acquire wisdom.